Doing Crazy Rhino Laughs with Bill Hader and Women Inspired’s Dr. April Seifert

Darling Ruffians…  Behold! Your every-once-in-a-while missive from the land of snarky solipsism periodically masquerading as art… How the hell are you? Isn’t the world just horrendous right now? Everything is awful. Most days I have to watch a boatload of BBC America just to get through the day. Hold fast, dear ones.

In the meantime, I have some wickedly fun news I can finally utter out loud and in pixels… My tiny book, Gotham Girl, Interrupted, a comedy about neurodiversity (and other clinically awful things) is being developed by Emmy award-winning executive producer, Cary Brokaw, of Angels in AmericaWTF, you say? I know!

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We’re doing a half-hour show called SPAZ in the vein of Fleabag and Better Things. Of course, I’m beyond thrilled. Cary’s instincts about story are so wildly uncontrived, they nudge me way the hell out of my comfort zone. Plus, getting paid to be as charmingly weird as you naturally are is kind of a fabulous vacation. (For newcomers here… I’d made this promise ages ago to always do work that completely terrifies my dad, and now it’s totally working out! Who knew?)

But this is why I’m still in Los Angeles at Saint Jacqueline’s Home for Wayward  Writers…  and why I’ve been trying to stick to Colson Whitehead’s highly unsexy book advice: “Stay at home and write. Don’t go out.” I have to admit some days… it makes me batshit antsy AF, and so recently I had to go outside to meet Bill Hader. Can I just tell you… sitting mere feet away from this national treasure of a guy, listening to him totally indulge his yowling, horny-rhinoceros-laughter, has the CRAZY effect of making you less afraid of your own horny-rhinoceros-laugh? Which is also why I’m a bit less shy about sharing my latest interview with April Seifert, host of the groundbreaking podcast Women Inspired!

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For those of you who know me, I apply the rules of improv comedy to manage a life with epilepsy. What I loved about my conversation with April is that she got me thinking again about how my prior professional background in Design Thinking could be applied to ongoing healing, self-care, and life design to thrive with any chronic condition. To my mind, April is exactly the kind of badass psychologist and data scientist the End Epilepsy campaign needs to design a world more inclusive of all our differently wired brains and bodies. I’m so grateful to her for having me on Inspired Women. Give it a listen and spare some starry love when you have a chance.

For now, I’m going back to a series bible. Stay rad, lovelies, Until next time – xoxo – GG

The Big Sleep…

Don’t you just love this picture of Joan Didion? She looks so vulnerable—like she just woke up from a nap.

Hi there, Lovelies. It’s 79 and gorgeous along the Hudson where I have been leaning out… way out over the last 6 weeks. Another shout from the cool, dark little corner of New York where the fan on my desk whirs away and I ponder over how to organize a new thriller tentatively titled MUSE WITCH BEAST. Again, all kudos and love to Jami Attenberg’s #1000wordsofsummer for fueling my creative sleep.

There’s a lot of connective tissue that remains to be woven across the bones of the monstrous creature but if I’ve learned anything at all from writing SPAZ (or Gotham Girl Interrupted as it’s now titled) it’s that the book you set out to write is rarely the book that gets written.

One minute you’re penning a heady little yarn about creativity, electricity, and the brain, the next you’re wading through the swampy musings of what it means to be the loudest mute lady in NYC, and now I’ve ended up with this very long thank you note to the people who’ve looked after me all these years of dealing with epilepsy. One thing I’ve noticed (and I don’t think I’m imagining it) is that as you edge closer and closer toward your release date, the more squirrelly people around you become. They’re entirely more careful about what they say in your presence. Their voices go up an octave, sharpening in this nervous, whistling-past-the-graveyard kind of way. It’s as if they are preparing to be completely horrified by some revelation, embarrassment, or cringe-worthy detail you may have included about them. Some go radio-silent altogether. It’s surreal.

There’s this awful story/rumor that came across my feed during final editing about a memoirist who wrote a tell-all of her marriage. Apparently, her husband read it and immediately committed suicide. The prospect of any reader feeling driven toward such tragic action by anything I might jot down completely terrifies me. We’re all unreliable narrators (even of our own stories) and what if we inadvertently trigger someone or everyone? Should there be some kind of warning label like at the beginning of Incredibles 2? It keeps me up at night. The thing I woke up to however during the writing process is that while my own style of comedy often vacillates between ridiculous self-deference and subversive snark, the target is always just me. I think I’d always rather have everyone else coming off clever and effing hilarious.

I want to ask other comedians and writers about this… I especially want to ask Ottessa Moshfegh if people she knows recognize themselves in her books, or is it all some kind of wild fictitious channeling? I am reading her latest about a white girl with a trust fund who self-medicates to the point of a near-continuous blackout in the hopes of changing her life in her sleep. Who knew self-destruction could be so entertaining? There are many days I would like to nap my way to a better existence.

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Her voice is intoxicating—with zero fear of the grotesque. She also portrays privilege in a manner that makes it hard to look away.

Alas, no big sleep for any of us yet…  Get outside today, Lovelies – XOXO – GG

Be the Unlikable Female Narrator You Long to See in the World…

Even if it is a cat. Seriously, Maris Kreizman uttered the above words last week and, bless her heart if they haven’t become my goddamn rallying cry.

Hi there, Lovelies. How the hell are you?

I have, quite literally, been trying to get down with my bad self… to conjure up the very worst person I could conceive of for my next book—a most rageful, strange, and despicable girl. I need her to possess just enough heartless psychopathy but without being too creepy-cool—though don’t you just LOVE Killing Eve on BBC America? I retreat often the Beeb for emotional support viewing given the rollicking media climate stateside.

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I also tend to prefer my killers a little more hapless and awkward while still fully owning their unfettered self-righteous indignation. My girl needs to stub her toe on the ottoman in the middle of a supremely venomous diatribe. She never quite makes a clean getaway. If anything, she makes a slightly gross one. I generally know that the experiment is working if I’ve frightened Ed or my dad. Fortunately, the ritual never lasts for more than a day or so…  either because I’m morphing into a nap-oriented, Frankie-type or something entirely lovely happens like this…

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I had no idea it was even going up. And of course, I still want a different subtitle…

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Mostly because I think of this book as equal parts epilepsy, anxiety, and depression… minus much of the unending despair you usually see associated with epilepsy (or all the) Sick Lit narratives. Evidently, I lost this round, but maybe it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it’s the beginning. #SickGirlFunny?

Speaking of beginnings, if you have a chance to get outside today, Manhattan is practically a fresh-washed, Technicolor™ movie musical…

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I SO want to challenge a complete stranger to Bananagrams in Bryant Park but I have to stay inside at my desk and channel pissed-off lady criminals. I am in writer jail. Think Lorelai Gilmore goes a bit Grey Gardens. Have a meaningful day, people. Hold fast and don’t get chronic dry eye from Clockwork Orange-ing the news… xoxo – gg

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When You Wake Up as a Marvel Supervillain…

It’s a look I’ve seen both my daughters give me so many times. It’s the very same look I gave my own mom. Man, if mothers don’t always get it in the end.

The other day my Biffle pointed out (well before I’d had any coffee) that I was finally a Marvel supervillain on Jessica Jones… I was so ready to be completely delighted even though (in truth) I had trouble getting into Season 1 of the Netflix series mostly because I was trying to get less peeved about everything in life and the last thing I needed at the time was more bitter, bourbon-chugging role models. Alas, this is the villain my BFF sent me…

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Thanks a lot, Marvel…  As the dreaded Alisa Jones, embattled mother of Jessica, an experiment of whiteboy medical hubris, never mind a cautionary icon of female rage, you couldn’t even give me a good suit? No leather? Just some fucking Chico’s casual wear, a poorly tailored coat, and a bad wig? Couldn’t my namesake at least have some product? And why did she have to kill the only righteous sister on the show? Ruth Sunday may not have been everybody’s fave girls’ trip companion, but we needed her. And why couldn’t Tiffany Haddish play the lady trauma surgeon? As a real girl who had her face almost entirely rebuilt just three years ago, I needed me some Tiffany H right about then…

I give Janet McTeer points for trying, but the whole of Season 2 left this exiled mother asking: Okay, so is female rage here totally genetically encoded (mom genes, ha) OR is it more a matter of superpower-gifted-freak status engendering a lifetime of exclusion, estrangement, bullying, and bitter alienation? Some blend fundamental to the female experience? Is this the reason mothers pull back from their adolescent daughters? So that their darlings don’t necessarily become them? All of the above but jeez… were there ever so many brands of lady angst this season…  Between Jeri deciding to completely Armageddon her life after her diagnosis to Trish’s pathologically pathetic power vaping to her own malignant narcissist of a pageant mother… we are an irritated lot. Still, we make it work for us—until it suddenly doesn’t. In all the years that have elapsed since Alisa’s accident, why didn’t Dr. Karl think of trying some PTSD-oriented VR therapies? Com’on, Marvel. Get with the times.

I loved that all the episodes were directed by women, but oof… some of the parallels to my own rag and bone life were palpably cringe-worthy.

Still in exile writing, but happy Pagan, Passover weekends, Lovelies… xoxo – gg

Big Little Sighs

Photo illustration by Cristiana Couceiro. Source photograph: Igor Ustynskyy

Hello, Lovelies… How the hell are you?

Behold, Spring. Mother nature’s way of saying, “Let’s get down!”

Amid the four nor’easters we’ve had here, I’ve found it necessary to shelter inside an emotional support meatloaf… Vegetarians, look away. This one’s a mashup of Ina Garten’s recipe tempered with the dark arts of Lipton onion soup mix. (Thereby sparing everyone the weepy misery of chopping three yellow onions in favor of a little packet of MSG nirvana.)

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It’s a blend of high and low culture that satisfies every time—much like champagne and potato chips. Oh, but gone are those days. A cheat day now and then is the best I can muster. And I’ve been cooking at the end of a long, snowy road, on hiatus from the city while I freight train through two TV scripts.

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One, dealing with neurodiversity, I’ve started and stopped at least twenty times with my writing partner… I’ll say cranky things like, “No, no, no… That’ll never work, that’s been done…”  just as he manages to pry the barnacles off and we come up with something nifty and almost weird enough to work. The other script is a single-camera half-hour rom-com series built around epilepsy, anxiety, and depression. My heart/brain still skips a beat/synapse that anyone’s actually interested, but there it is.

For reading during this latest storm/news cycle… I’d originally planned something intellectually rigorous like Diane Ackerman’s gorgeous A Natural History of the Senses. (Imma comin’ Diane!)

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Instead, I found myself retreating to the comforts of David Rakoff’s hilarious essay collection Fraud (since imposter syndrome is the central theme of my life).

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I’ve also been fangirling the eff out of some of my favorite writers on women’s pain and addiction like Abby Norman (review of Ask Me About My Uterus to come!) and Leslie Jamison.  Damn… Jamison’s words in her anti-memoir The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath “More. Again. Forever…” recalled the watery longing of mothers I knew from many a wine-soaked book club, the palpable ache for a deeper connection, more than for access to any Jack London’esque “white light” of creativity.

I’ve never been one who can write on the sauce (despite loving it). And I don’t get writer’s block as much as a kind of writer’s malaise that manifests in the form of big little sighs, working alone every morning in my pajamas, until some Mary Karr-ish language tumbles out: Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Don’t. You daft girl… Who on earth ever told you that you could do this? 

But then I go on. Here’s a great huzzah to the thrumming of buds and bugs and to a few more words.

Until tomorrow, hold fast – XOXO – GG